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The Hilton Houston Post Oak by the Galleria on Tuesday announced it wouldn't host a pro-Palestinian group's conference as planned later this month.
A Houston hotel on Tuesday said it won't host a conference planned by a Palestinian rights organization, citing safety concerns for its staff. The cancellation came following a protest organized by conservative political commentators on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.
The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights planned to host its national conference Oct. 26-29 at the Hilton Houston Post Oak by the Galleria. The conference was announced in March and advertised keynote speeches from U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib and academic Marc Lamont Hill, among others.
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On Tuesday, conservative activist Laura Loomer, who has more than 629,000 followers on X, began circulating contact information for the hotel, urging her followers to reach out to the business and complain about the conference. Loomer claimed, without evidence, that the organization supports terrorism. Other, smaller conservative accounts posted similar calls to action.
Hours later, a spokesperson for Hilton said the conference would no longer be hosted at the hotel.
"Hilton Houston Post Oak by the Galleria serves as a place of public accommodation and does not endorse the positions of third-party groups or organizations," the company said in a statement. "The safety and security of our Team Members and guests is our top priority. Given escalating security concerns in the current environment, the hotel has determined that it cannot serve as the venue for this event because of the potential risks to our Team Members and guests. Our priority is and will remain the safety and security of everyone we welcome at our hotels."
Officials with the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights blasted the decision Wednesday in a prepared statement.
“The breach by Hilton is clearly an act of ethnic, racial and religious discrimination," said Ahmad Abuznaid, executive director of the organizaiton. "Further, canceling the conference because of our organization's political positions goes against our First Amendment rights. Not only has Hilton breached their agreement with us, they have also sent a strong message that they stand on the side of hate and bigotry. Moving forward we will explore all options to remedy this. We will fight back and remain undeterred in our mission to advocate for justice, equality, and self-determination for the Palestinian people.”
On its website advertising the conference, the group says it supports "Palestinian liberation" and opposes "Israeli repression and U.S. imperialism." The group is a coalition of pro-Palestinian organizations that has helped organize boycotts and divestments of Israeli companies and sanctions against the government. It also calls for the end of U.S. military funding to Israel.
The cancellation was celebrated by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who used his X account to share an article about the pressure campaign and called the organization "Hamas supporters."
John Wayne Ferguson is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for the Houston Chronicle. A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, John joined the Chronicle in 2022. He was previously a reporter at The Galveston County Daily News. Follow him on Twitter at @johnwferguson.